I think the CAD-ready parts selection catalog along with Google-like search functionality is going to increasingly be incorporated as part of a core PLM platform. As you well note, it just makes good sense.
I think all working engineers should have at their disposal a portfolio of parts search and selection sites. The Siemens portal discussed here is a great idea. I'd also like to point interested readers to a new parts search site started recently by Design News parent company UBM Electronics. It's DataSheets.com
If you do check it out, please send me feedback on your user experience. Email me at email@example.com
Chuck, this parts portal is really aimed at CAD users--SolidEdge is Siemens' more small-company friendly CAD tool compared with its big guns offering, NX. So the answer is yes, smaller companies would take advantage of this kind of capability and some are even moving beyond CAD to a full PLM vision of product development. It's typically small steps, but the offerings are far more small and mid-size company friendly in terms of price and packaging. And truthfully, many of these small and mid-size firms are really seeking out the competitive advantages PLM can deliver. So I don't think any of this is out of reach.
Rob, I don't think something like this CAD parts portal would necessarily be considered cutting-edge--helpful, yes. Life changing, not likely. This particular announcement just makes it easier for design teams to source and select parts and incorporate the 3D models of those parts directly into their design. More of a time-saver/convenience function so they don't have to rekey in geometries and spend too much time on busy work.
PLM, on the other hand, is far more cutting edge. I think your observations are right in that adoption is certainly not as widespread as CAD. However, PLM has been around for a good decade and it's definitely moved far beyond just being used by the mega automotive and aerospace firms to being adopted by smaller manufacturers who see value in centralizing and sharing product-related data as well as adopting cross-functional engineering workflows.
Is this technology getting adopted widely, Beth? I would imagine a great number of small- to mid-size manufacturers are not equipped to deploy these tools. Maybe I'm wrong. It's cool stuff, but I'm curious about whether these are the tools of large bleeding-edge early adopters or whether these tools are likely to become widely used.
I agree that end-to-end CAD prowess is no longer a competitive advantage and that companies are definitely coming up to speed on PLM and its surrounding benefits fairly quickly.
You would be surprised, however, to note how many companies are still stuck in that very early PLM stage--really still product data management, all about managing the CAD models and data eminating specifically from engineering. While I don't mean to downplay the difficulty of getting this part of the vision right, companies really need to move quickly on next PLM steps, broadening the footprint to include other types of product-related data in the repository and creating cross-functional workflows. It's only with that complete vision that companies really see quantifiable gains in terms of design innovation and efficiencies.
I think we're getting to the point where having in-house expertise in end-to-end CAD is no longer a competitive advantage, but rather de rigeur. Nearly everyone is coming up the PLM curve, on the user side, so if you're NOT fully engaged, you're at a disadvantage. Which I guess makes product/vendor selection all the more difficult for those who still havent bought in.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
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